Thursday, October 27, 2011

Confused and Dazed

People Remix Competition 205 had an unusual choice of source material for participants to tackle. The game Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem is perhaps better known for its psychological horror and dense storyline than for any hummable tunes. Nevertheless the sweeping source is more than fitting in context of the climactic moments of the game. Follow a deadline extension, sggod89 managed to put out an arrangement for the round; he wished to use a real bass guitar for his track, but settled on an all-synth excursion with a rockified middle section. As he was the only entrant, he obtained first place by default and was awarded with “infinity points”.

JHCompo on Tuesday featured “River Rapids” as theme, which led to a rush of entries. RAMPKORV suffered several issues due to a software upgrade, and composed a quick tune without being able to hear it. Alestance’s first JHCompo entry “rapid decline” showed a fast increase in electro stylings making use of VOPM and FL Studio's 3xOSC. coda threw a bone into the river presumably to continue his ongoing dog theme, this time to the tune of dance chords. dusthillguy submitted a brief, soft foray into nostalgic electronics with both the title and description of “snos”. mu’s piano-centric work is punctuated by bright bursts of synth and doses of rhythmic pew-pew. FLD brought along a “River canoe and a keg of beer” as well as lo-bit electro to make up for the problems he went through last week. Jarski also represented the r00t3d collective by presenting spiky untz and a fake-out ending.

Clockwerk floated through a mechanized jungle, careful to avoid the jutting rocks of distortion. Zerothemaster drowned in bass frequencies and chaos, but not before inserting a field recording of flowing water and a number of polyrhythms. mv stepped into the “Rapid Water” for a foray into trip hop centered around a eerie tone and eventually strings. braket uploaded a combination of text-to-speech and subdued drum beats with chippy blurbs. nysnamovois went for a verbose song title complimented by his narrow soundscape of effective e-harmonics. StatusD’s “River Trip” lasted nearly seven minutes and goes through several permutations before finally crashing into an expletive. SonicThHedgog tore up the listening party with electric guitar licks lasting about forty-five seconds. Finally a load of Maraki show that rivers and waterfalls are the natural extension of orchestral brass and pads. 

Thursday’s OHC was cloudy, incoherent, and obscured, and that was just the theme for the night. Zovi subsequently fell into a daze amongst the wildlife, with a kazoo in his mouth. Obtuse resumed his chiptune phase with a rush of white noise and culminating in a dance pulse. natsukashi posted a tribal piece complete with unusual harmonies and scales. Interrobang Pie initially broke his entry by using a lengthy title, but reuploaded his 8-bit prance that apparently ends with Mario going to hell. StatusD worked some magic using triplets and his Korg Electribe EMX-1, ending in a wash of delay. jarski brought in his Game Boy for more music and to observe the "colourful sky" in shades of grey. HarryNilsson'sGhost paid tribute to a breed of dog and laid down an off-kilter selection of drum patterns. Bren's signature chord progressions show even when constrained to 15 minutes, wondering whether to go with "Gloomy Haze" or hazy gloom.

sci entered a "German Dream Factory" prompted by utterances in the language via multiple repeated clips. General Mumble repeated a bad word and smash a shovel into the ears of the listening party with breakbeats and searing synth. Sadsic slid deftly into a hip hop groove making use of the stereo spectrum leading to mellower sections. ShrackAttack's life flashed before his eyes as orchestral elements set the somber moments before his passing. DDRKirby(ISQ)'s ambiance exemplifies the sensation of being disoriented with no previous recollection, though this picks with a bit of electro. munchi was slapped for having a potty mouth, and explained that he was preoccupied during the compo. SupaSpeedStrut sent a long and introspective lead couple with low end growl and reverb-drenched drums to boot. Finally, Dr. Arcana sent along a "March of the Dizzy" topped with bells and strings that danced into the night.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Saddest Key

Soundevotion Competition reached the end of round 61 on Monday and brought in six entries. The rules suggested punk rock, instrumental or industrial, but the style was open from entrants to explore. aged made a point of stating that his track was unfinished, repeatedly using the word “bad” to describe every aspect of the production; the track does however make effective use of bells, piano and mechanical rhythms topped with desolate vocal stylings. chunter wasn’t sure whether to title his entry in English or Spanish, and settled on a subtitle as he strummed along a series of delayed guitar chords with synthesized speaking. JustinCredible dropped acid bass alongside a solid snare, disported lead and floating synth lines propelled by a sampled speech. Knetter brought out the titular “Musicbox” for a dance session made exclusively from the elements included in the samplepack. Church tolls sound at the start of Shadowbane’s piece, joined by gloomy pads and fitted into an industrial shell with poetic monologue. 

JHCompo on Tuesday featured “Banquet” as its theme, much to the delight of entrants who coincidentally wished to have a heartburn-themed round. The listening party had a couple of inconveniences, as the first entry by FLD was put up as a test while the second by RAMPKORV served as an exercise in unlistenablilty. Afterward the banquet started off proper: Obtuse went to the land of funk and jammed around deft bass playing. chunter created a tune based on a clavinet riff building up to an electro rhythm. nikola exclaimed “LOL not enough time” and put together electronic loops with key and chord changes.

bjkmenu won the “chicken award” once again delivering his distinctive humor and by way of pitch-affected vocals. mu appeared and submitted “you”, a mellow groove culminating in a recitation of the alphabet. irrelevnt ventured into the studio to record himself on guitar whilst emitting various bodily sounds and applying synthesizers. StatusD uploaded a multipart track spanning nearly eight minutes of colliding e-harmonies. Bringing up the rear was Evil Shrubbery who slid in a keyboard session thickening out to a wide swatch of synths totaling a little over a minute. 

Thursday’s OHC had "The Game" as its theme, opening the door to jokes about the losing thereof. Following my vocal introduction, RAMPKORV decided that the theme was something else entirely. CJthemusicdude's choir pad and militaristic percussion pervade his story of "That Ninja Game", a tale of love and glory. Hapi-San encouraged others to relax in the early stages of The Game, offering ambiance as a way of cooling down via crashing waves. Serisium made his first OHC entry, consisting of a handful of lo-bit harmonic elements ending with the crackle of a noise channel. frkygp continued the 8-bit incursion with a sparse beat grooving through a circuit. More chiptunage appeared courtesy of  Jimmy, whose entry is reminiscent of Mega Man. Obtuse in an unusual change of form created chip music of his own, which by his description is tinged with medieval and tango elements. 

sci's scenario implies that he is more adept at composing than at game design, submitting a slung synth-filled beat. mv went off the beaten path by referencing chess, and his tune reflects this game using strings graced with dense trip-hop. Forty-Two wrote about the video game trope of "That Snow Level", melding piano and pads with headbobbing bass and chimes. Arcana's entry was uploaded by DDRKirby(ISO) as he had to leave; since the tune was created with an iPhone, it is entirely possible that Siri the digital assistant had a hand in it. jarski as part of the r00t3d collective presented an 8-bit arp that met other harmonic elements and eventually laid down the unts. Sadsic inserted quarters into the "Jungle Game" (unrelated to Jumanji) and brought upon a disjointed ascent into madness. Destroid saw fit to reestablish the theme with a game that is probably not produced by Milton Bradley.  

Hapi-San Again put up an entry, disqualifying it due to being a revised version of a a track from last week. DDRKirby(ISQ)'s track also recalls Mega Man before slamming into an extended disco-bit session. Shadix brought the house down and the lighters up by showing off a R&B song complete with vocal harmonies. Zovi went the abrasive chip route, at one point filling the soundscape with a wall of crushed noise. munchi blew on his cartridge and made his way though the levels to the eventual e-guitar solo. SupaSpeedStrut put sidechains to use, accentuating the kick drum to reach the phased-out end of "lvl 1". natsukashi stood in the "Castleyard" at the end of the listening party delivering a Baroque approach to chip, punctuated by thuds.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Within the Extreme

Mirby’s ReMixing Bout 003 managed a turnout after two rounds of inactivity. This time the compo featured Mario and Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story as its source material, and a pair or arrangements were submitted. The organizer Mirby encouraged the participation of Obtuse, who in turn coerced Mirby to create an entry herself. Obtuse’s remix starts off with piano arpeggios and strings, joined later by harpsichord, woodwinds; the “Medieval Beach Castle” vibe resumes with a more rhythmic backing as the source becomes prominent. Mirby submitted an entry that begins with a sole pad and builds with other instruments; unlike some of her previous compo material, a steady tempo is established that keeps the arrangement consistent. 

People’s Remixing Competition 204 served up two sources to remix - Call of Duty: Black Ops and Super Hang-On. Despite this, only one entrant submitted in the time allotted, thereby gaining first place by default. Xsquader admittedly put his remix together in “about a hour” giving the “Winning Run” theme from Super Hang-On a grittier, moody edge. The compo admin Bundeslang jokingly stated that Xsquader won by “infinity points” and thanked him rescuing the compo round from having zero entries. 

JHCompo on Tuesday featured “Let It Out” as its theme for the night, and I made a point of making the description ambiguous. Naturally one of the first assumptions was that it had to do with flatulence. Obtuse let out “some 80s gas” by way of vintage-sounding synthesizers and an unrelenting drum loop. bjkmenu was the first of the listening party to equate the theme to the Baha Men song, thus performing a cover version in his distinctive tongue-in-cheek style. mv went “All Out” and uploaded a lush trip-hop number with lyrics such as “Accumulating the sighs of a million wimps.” coda answered the Baha Men by stating “i let the dogs out” thereby satisfying his usual canine quota for the week and composing something that may have been inspired by a Sega soundtrack. mu provided a series chimes that served as an intermission for the evening, followed by a distant holler.

irrelevnt’s waveform image alone conveys the gradual intensity of a “barf” and was titled as such. StatusD let loose his hardware synths once again, telling the two-part story of a scientist escaping from his mind and later “doing serious ****”. At the end of the listening party, SonicThHedgog’s “YAHHH!” sets it mood with a clean, delay-affected electric guitar that erupts to a session of shreddage. Two entrant brought up the rear that night: TheoryOfN continued his collab with the mysterious entities Storm Moore, B-Ri, and Mr. Bird, and added a new member MC JC to the hip-hop troupe. Right before the curtains closed, Dj RoboRob shook SolidComposer off of its foundation by creating an extensive dance tune with perhaps the longest buildup section ever submitted to the site. 

Thursday's OHC had a shorter-than-usual theme description, prompting me to put my vocal narration through the Songify app. The two following entries were the result of time constraints: DDRKirby(ISQ) created "funktatious junk" ahead of the round not knowing whether he would be able to attend otherwise; Arcana sent along a piece made in twelve minutes due to visiting guests that he tended to that night. CJthemusicdude chose to cover an unidentified piano composition heard in a YouTube video, promising "10,000 internetz" to anyone who could identify it. Obtuse venture to the 80s again although in this instance it was "in Asia Somewhere" and thus explored exotic scales. LuketheXjesse failed to disappoint in sending along walls of metal as well as a left-turn sound clip outro. Hapi-San named his bassline-centric electro track per Luke's suggestion, submitting his first ever OHC composition. Suzumebachi's staccato bass strings form the basis of a hypothetical film score, tailing off with a 3-4-5-1-8.

General Mumble felt free to experiment due to the nature of the theme and fired off a searing arpeggios leading to breakbeat and eventually a edgy melodic buzz. sci seemed confused about the concept of his own tune, but nevertheless put up ambiance that ends with a spastic fit. Forty-Two warned that his entry may have been too soft, but it picks up steam as drums and pianos fill out the soundscape. A low groan occurs at the outset of Usabell's submission, establishing a gloom that is lifted as a dance beat propels it along. munchi played with his vibraphone accompanied by timpani and a lo-fi lead and cluster of percussion before a more convention kick drum settles in. SupaSpeedStrut's hiss and crackle pervade his "distorted stand-up bass" backed with a headbobbing beat. Finally Shadix fortold the coming of a rift in the heavens that may or may not annihilate the planet with choir, acoustic drums and jazzy bass.

At one point in the week I was witnessed a conversation regarding events that predated my presence in the arrangement community. While it felt alienating to read about a past I wasn't a part of, it made me realize that the time I've spent here has had an effect on my life, if not others. As time goes on, our present events become anecdotes to look back and reminisce upon.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

One More Thing

Doubles Dash Compo occurred at the end of September to give entrants ample time to “get back into the swing of things” as the organizer Level 99 put it. As usual in DDC, an editable EtherPad page was set up to facilitate team-ups just before the start of the round; on this particular night however the page was promptly pillaged by Monsquaz enthusiasts. In the spirit of collaboration I recorded my spoken-word intro with OCRE, who also put in a falsetto rendition of the Beyoncé song “Irreplaceable” for good measure. Level 99 teamed up with Xenon Odyssey and tagged in Cyril the Wolf for bass after his partner disappeared; the result is an anthem about returning home. Xarnax42 showed off his vocal chops joining up with MickRip, whose guitar work eventually steals the spotlight and keeps it for the remainder of the song. 

A wild OLRmageddon LII appeared, and with it a slew of entries based on the "water game" theme given. Participants could remix any game tune as long as that game had water in it, and for a bonus could include elements of jazz. Brunzolaitis served up three entries for the round: His Morrowind remix starts off with a voice clip joined by delay-affected chords, then lays down un-tiss as the dialogue increases; His take on Mother carries a thinner sound built around a disjoined beat and topped with something resembling pop vocals. OneUp quickly settled on organ for his Super Mario Bros underwater theme arrangement with a synth lead that is given some time alone before morphing into a distorted electro edge. Brunzolaitis’s third entry took on The Neverwood by first embracing the swing rhythm for the intro, then gripping onto acoustic strumming and spreading electronics over it. Rexy remixed James Pond: Underwater Agent with a mellower, hi-hat based swing by contrast; her “License to Kazoo” was in full effect, playing off the flute at the opposite end of the stereo field along with syncopated piano chords and other jazz tropes. Finally dasaten put together a quick Mega Man 9 remix consisting mostly of accordion and clashing basslines. 

JHCompo on Tuesday featured “Crime Scene” as its theme, and I recorded a “Crime Scene Intro” (CSI) accordingly. chunter submitted a subdued, Rhodes centric piece that would not be out of place in a special victims unit. coda similarly went for a softer route, riding a four-note riff along varied textures as his “crimehound” was afoot. Obtuse’s “TV crime scene” imagines an SUV driving to the scene bringing along pulsing dance rhythms. nikola was able to make a arpeggiated snippet for the compo using his friend’s DAW at a café. StatusD returned to create music that he described as “kinda weird slowpoke stuff” generated from the iPhone app Nanoloop. ShrackAttack generated a minute-long ambient excursion, the length of which was attributed to being thirty minutes late to the round.

Jarski evoked a sense of “mysterious murder” by way of an electronic growly buzz, and the sets down a head-bobbing beat. irrelevnt polished up his guitar strings and uploaded a multifaceted meld of strumming, shreddage and noodling. Detective Tuesday fittingly made his appearance to investigate and showed his laidback, funky jam as he pored over every clue. Evil Shrubbery worked out “It's Existenze!” a moody fragment of pads and effects proceeded by an orchestral hit and extensive silence. SonicThHedgog made it in at the last moments with a sparse beat with industrial and trip hop influences, and then blew out the listening party’s speakers with dubstep at the end. TheoryOfN somehow latched onto the list of entries with a rap collaboration between Storm Moore, B-Ri, and Mr. Bird. 

Thursday’s OHC was apparently home to an Occupy ThaSauce movement as Monsquaz people flooded the IRC channel #thasauce prior the compo round starting. The the theme for the night was "Meeting the Mark" and this I recorded my vocal narration to that effect. dusthillguy once again used pitched vocal samples to convey his quirky melodic structure and sped things up near the end of his entry. Zovi openly wondered where Mark went and offered oldskool gabba for the listening party. RAMPKORV submitted his piano styling as usual, this time guided by hi-hat and synthetic accompaniment. Jeffthestrider made his first compo entry and put together a searing lead backed by a steady drum machine. Sadsic decided that his "whirlwind of synths" met the mark using filtered snare and a breakdown two thirds of the way in. Destroid's track  featured either a crying animal or a small child, depending on who listened to it during the party. The good doctor Arcana practiced vision, direction, and execution to compose an efficient dance track. 

General Mumble equated the night's theme with gunfire, and did a cover of the Metallica song "Shoot Me Again" in the style of upbeat electronic. Obtuse brought out echo-affected piano for the sake of being "Legendary", propelled by a breakbeat. sci ventured to the far reaches of his unique musical style and decided "maybe you needed the other target, anyway". jarski linked a smiling dog for his entry and fell back on loop out of supposed laziness. munchi successfully made it on time and wrote an initially violin-filled, drum heavy  piece about the moment one completes a video game. Forty-Two felt relieved about completing a university assignment and composed a blissful tune to celebrate. DDRKirby(ISQ) begins with pads that open up to a constant kick and and arps, declaring a launch by way of trance. Suzumebachi graced OHC with his presence, lamenting reuploading but otherwise delivering a breezy session of rock. At the end of the listening party, Acuity went up and down broken-up chords with harp over a bed of strings, eventually putting out gritty electro to fill out the soundscape. 

I’d like to take a moment make a note about the recent passing of Steve Jobs. If it wasn’t for a fateful day when I stumbled across an Apple Store and fooled around with GarageBand, I probably wouldn’t have gone on to produce music in other DAWs. I’ve met many people in the community as a result of exploring music production and entering compos. In a way, it all leads back to him.